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Ancient Antiphons for a New Year

The different times in the year- ordinary time, Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter- should feel different, different melodies, different colours, as different as the spring is from the summer, and summer from the autumn. Often the modern liturgy does not communicate this.

In our 2019 Calendar we share with you some images of a beautifully illuminated antiphonary from our archives, which was used for Vespers of the Major Feasts through the year, until the liturgy changed after Vatican II. The work of illustration was accomplished by the sisters over many years and completed in 1910.

A Reflection for Week 4 of Advent

With the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Lord’s Birth is at hand. With the words of the prophet Micah, the Liturgy invites us to look at Bethlehem, the little town in Judea that witnessed the great event. Unfortunately, in our day, it does not represent an attained and stable peace, but rather a peace sought with effort and hope.

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 21st of December

On this the shortest day of the year it is appropriate that our ‘O Antiphon’ has the theme of light bringing us hope that darkness can never overpower Eternal Light.

Recently while reading an article in the National Geographic on ‘Solar Sailing in Space’- which I did not fully understand! – one sentence caught my attention: scientists in the last century have discovered that “light is pure energy – that property in nature that makes things go, run or happen.” These four words ‘light is pure energy’ seemed to jump out of the page and immediately all the references to light in relation to God in the Old and New Testaments flooded my mind. Light is pure energy! What a wonderful image of God!

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 20th of December

As today, we pray in our ‘O Antiphon’ – ‘O key of David, come and close the path to misery’ or as another translation expresses it: ‘come and lead the captive free from prison, free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death’ – we reflect that a key both opens and locks a door. What is it that keeps our hearts and lives imprisoned and locked up? What door needs to be opened to free us to live peacefully and trustfully in the Presence of God in the midst of the daily upsets that can occur and all the noise and turmoil of today’s world?

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 17th of December



Today we will sing the first of the ‘O Antiphons’; the beautiful Magnificat Antiphons for the final days of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. These Antiphons address Christ by various titles/attributes and beseech him to ‘Come’.

This first Antiphon addresses Christ as ‘Wisdom’. It is a wonderful thing to recognise that Christ is Wisdom and to remember that “the wisdom which comes from above is marked chiefly indeed by its purity, but also by its peacefulness;

A Reflection for Week 3 of Advent

The first Reading of Mass is the invitation to joy. The prophet Zephaniah at the end of the seventh century B.C spoke of the city of Jerusalem and its people with the words: ‘’Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem…..! The Lord your God is in your midst.’’

A Window into our Life: Do Dominican contemplative nuns have restless hearts?

After WMOF, it is good to come back to your own roots, to our ‘Grandfather’- St Augustine, as we Dominican brothers and sisters like to call him. St Dominic adopted from him not only the Rule, but also the RESTLESSNESS of the heart.

In ‘Confessions’ (1.1,1) he wrote:

You have made us for yourself,
and our heart is restless until it rests in You.

Restlessness is not bad thing, that’s what makes us searchers in life. Restlessness keeps us unsatisfied and yearning for more. That ‘more’ is GOD.

Novena to St Dominic – Day 9

On this last day of the Novena, the eve of St. Dominic’s Day, I would like to speak on the humility of St Dominic. I have always admired Dominic’s humility- probably because I am so much lacking in it myself!

“We are told that in his lifetime, Dominic had wished to be treated always as ‘one of the brethren’- as simply ‘Brother Dominic’ and his dying wish was that he should be buried under the feet of his brethren. It is quite in accordance with his own temperament that he should live on in the Church, not as a striking individual, but in the work of preaching the Gospel, for which he instituted his Order.

Novena to St Dominic – Day 7: St Dominic a man of encouragement

On this 7th day of our Novena in honour of St. Dominic, I would like to share just a few thoughts on St. Dominic as a man of Encouragement.

“When your words came, I devoured them, your Word was my delight and the joy of my heart” (Jr.15:16).

How aptly this Scripture text from the prophet Jeremiah can be applied to Our Holy Father Dominic – we can just see him in our mind’s eye, contemplating from the depth of his heart with great joy and exultation, this Scripture jewel, overwhelmed as he always was, with an immense love of Holy Scripture.

Novena to St Dominic – Day 6: Exploring an Icon of St Dominic

Every one of us is a living icon of God. He created us in his likeness and in his own image.

As you can see, this Icon of St. Dominic is not yet finished. At first I was disappointed not to have completed it in time for his Feast. Then it occurred to me that there was a message for me in this. Like this icon each one of us is not quite finished. We are still on a journey from darkness into the light. It is my hope that the image of St Dominic portrayed or perhaps more accurately, revealed to us through this icon may help us to enter the hidden, inner sanctuary of his heart

Novena to St Dominic – Day 5: St Dominic and Body Language

My reflection is on the significance and importance of bodily posture in St Dominic’s prayer. As we know from the ‘Nine Ways of Prayer,’ St Dominic used his whole body when he prayed: bowing, prostration, reaching up to heaven.

It struck me as odd that in our time, when there is so great an awareness of the importance of body language in interpersonal communication and of how much of what is communicated is through bodily posture etc., that there should be such a widespread dismissal of any significance of our bodily posture when we pray. It is said that bodily posture doesn’t matter because God looks at the heart.

Novena to St Dominic – Day 4

O Rose of Patience

Each night at the end of Compline we address St Dominic with the antiphon O Lumen: “O light of the Church, teacher of truth, rose of patience, ivory of chastity, you freely poured forth the waters of wisdom, preacher of grace unite us with the blessed. I would like to reflect on the title ‘O rose of patience.’

Novena to St Dominic – Day 2: The paradox of the Cross

“For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; …
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; …
A time to mourn, and a time to dance; …
A time to love, and a time to hate …” (Ecclesiastes, cf 3:1-9)

There is never, however, a time to despair,

and no matter how challenging or God-less the time in which we find ourselves seems to be, we are called at all times to be creatures of hope.

St Dominic’s time was no less desperate than ours, yet more than anything it could be said of him that he was a man of hope because of his amazing confidence in God and of his reverence for the length to which Christ went, in order to save us.
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